Thursday, 8 July 2010

Codex Cthulhapalooza

With a title like that, it can only be...
a. The true Coalition Manifesto
b. The latest dub-reggae sensation or
c. A new pamphlet from Cardinal Cox.

I think we can all be suitably grateful that it is in fact c.

The story so far: Cardinal Cox, poet of Peterborough, produces pamphlets. I review them and encourage you, the reader, to buy them. As I like poetry in general, and the cardinal's sci-fi/horror/weirdness poetry in particular, this strikes me as a good arrangement.

The latest pamphlet was due to be distributed at something called Da'Con, which was cancelled. But in a note with the review copy CC explains that he just decided to do the thing anyway. What could be better than to receive a hastily-scribbled note with a small collection of Lovecraftian poems? All I need to do is put on my best strait-jacket, adjust my polarised reading apparatus, turn up the cool air machine, and get cracking.

For a start, Codex is not just about Lovecraft, but about the world Lovecraft both inhabited and helped to shape. We begin with Poe, pay due homage to Machen, Blackwood and others, before we actually encounter the Sage of Providence and his circle. It's impressive to find a collection of poems that manages to offer a sense of thematic unity while at the same time offering insights into a rather varied bunch of writers.




Here's an extract from the Machen poem:

Dry bones deep beneath the low terrace rows
Old gods dream of fresh mortal flesh cooling
Damp stains a terrifying shadow show
And blood spilled upon the stones pooling

I think that captures the essence of some Machen tales, and - more importantly - sums up Machen's appeal for Lovecraft.

It's a mark of CC's achievement that reading 'Zothique Gothique' I felt the urge to give Clark Ashton Smith another try. I've found him opaque in the past, but who knows? If I persevere. Perhaps his stories do conjure up the feeling of the poem, if you're in the right mood:

Final sun bloody red
Above the new constellations fill the night
All now have become dust

Codex Cthulhapalooza is available from Cardinal Cox, if you send him a C5 SAE, while stocks last - and so long as the screaming void at the heart of reality can be kept at bay with the strange incantations of poesy. Send your SAE to:

58 Pennington
Orton Goldhay
Peterborough
PE2 5RB

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